10 Road Signs to watch out for in your Agile Journey

Fragile Agile

What if a rookie car driver is suddenly asked to drive a heavy duty truck? This is how most enterprises feel when they precipitously decide to jump on the Agile bandwagon. Let's look at some of the road signs that the new truck driver needs to keep an eye out for to increase his chances of reaching his destination!

1. Big Bang approach to Agile: Over speeding sign

As they say speed thrills but kills. Imagine if somebody goes to fifth gear directly from the first gear! The vehicle will invariably come to a grinding halt within seconds! Similarly, some overzealous enterprises might step on the gas pretty early and most likely end up in a tangle. Enterprises choosing to go agile must first test the waters with a single team. They can then organically step up their game and 'scale agile' to multiple teams.

2. Leadership drives Vision: Green signal

Lack of a clear cut vision and objective from the leadership creates chaos just like a malfunctioning traffic signal. Lack of executive support in enterprises hurts large scale agile transformation and delays agile adoption over time. Enterprise agility requires a top-down commitment to drive the new way of thinking and delivering value.

3. Resistance to Change: One way sign

Infusing agility can face significant roadblocks from different quarters, especially business divisions. True agility is when all teams of an enterprise adopt agile practices and not just the IT teams. In fact in a recent state of agile survey, 43% of the respondents opined that organizational resistance to change is the biggest challenge to adopting and scaling Agile. This can be overcome by setting up a centralized Agile team tasked with the responsibility of coaching teams. Also once the teams start reaping the benefits of Agile, the resistance will die a natural death.

4. Business IT Alignment: Broken bridge sign

There always exists a gap between the business and the IT teams. The business teams constantly cavil about the IT teams not being up to speed and the IT guys cry in vain about lack of clarity from the executives. But we feel in the coming days IT will drive the business and both the units will have to converge.

5. Fear of Failure: Accident prone zone

It always sends a chill down the spine when we cross accident prone zones. Similarly most enterprises hesitate to adopt agile because they are skeptical about failing, or their investments going down the drain. Agile advocates iterative development which identifies fallacies sooner, thereby enabling a fail fast approach. In a fail fast approach, during development the teams continually check with the customer for feedback. In the event of a negative feedback, the teams pivot and work on a new feature, also learning valuable lessons in the process.

6. Flawed estimation technique: Landslide sign

Getting your estimation technique wrong can completely derail your release plans. A flawed technique can result in over commitment and delivery slippage. While the jury is out on the perfect estimation technique, we feel planning poker (for a limited set of backlogs) and bucket system works for most teams.

7. Playing without a coach: Slippery road sign

Teams largely align themselves to deeply inculcated habits in their enterprises. These age old mental models take the steam off their agile journey. Agile coaches help teams unlearn these mental models and inculcate Agile values. As mentioned earlier in the post, setting a centralized agile team goes a long way in ensuring consistent agile practices and processes.

8. Being a Feature Factory: U turn sign

Being in a 'Feature factory' is like taking U turns continuously! Despite travelling for quite a while, we end up in the same place. This kind of setup not only affects the morale of team members but can even affect the fortunes of a company. Every team member must definitely know the purpose behind building the product and their prospective users, and understand their individual role in the process in order to be truly motivated and effective. Successful teams start with building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and incrementally add features based on stakeholder feedback.

9. Ineffective Collaboration: No horn sign

Agile vouches for co-location and face to face communication which is not possible in large enterprises with globally distributed teams. In such a setup teams generally tend to work in silos and when there are dependencies, all hell breaks loose. For better communication and coordination, enterprises can leverage collaboration tools like Video conferencing and 'Agile project management products' .

10. Lack of Automation: Pedestrian only sign

Agile without automation is like driving your brand new 'sports car on a mud track' and finally blaming the car's engine. Without a robust automation ecosystem in place, the teams will struggle to keep up with the pace (and quality) that Agile warrants.

Author

Smitha Pereira
Product Consultant, Jile
Smitha is the product consultant for Jile and heads the Jile academy with over 17 years of industry experience in IT service. Ms. Pereira is the subject matter expert (SME) for agile and is a certified Scrum Master (CSM). She is also a Lead Safe Agilist.